Monday, 15 September 2014

Birthmonth Day Fifteen: Bent (and Musical Monday #78)


DAY FIFTEEN.  AGE FIFTEEN.

The Best Friend when I was at school wanted to be an actor too.  We had an inexhaustible list of make believe games we could haul out at playtime, the main one being ‘Hotchkins and Jane’ about two Victorian servants/twins who went on various adventures, often involving time travel.  In Year 4 we impressed the teacher so much with a cardboard puppet theatre show that she let us turn it into a play, and she cast us as the leads in our class’s sketch for the Christmas show, in Year 5 we were allowed a regular spot on a Friday afternoon to do a play and ours was always the best and we even spent our spare time rehearsing a Snow White pantomime we got to perform on the last day of the year, when everyone got to bring in games and weren’t paying any attention to us.  Generally throughout Junior School we came up with skits for assemblies.  In Senior School we ruled Lunchtime Drama Club, while in Afterschool Drama Club we were invariably cast as lovers.  Sherlock Holmes and Moran definitely had a thing for each other.  And we often came up with bits for open evenings, assemblies and ‘talent’ shows.  We even joined a ghastly Amateur Dramatics group together.  By college we got to share our drama lessons.  The plan had always been to go to Drama School together too and be housemates in London.

But things changed.  Things being that I got bad grades and quit acting.  While The Friend got good grades and went to Drama School and became a professional actor.

I have, to date, only seen him in three of his professional shows, coz he keeps being in shows when I am working, as well as being in London and other places, which is very inconvenient of him.

  • Snap (Stellar Theatre Company/Brockley Jack Theatre/July 2006)


On the way in, we noticed a sign warning of full frontal nudity.  I had never been to see a show with nudity in it before and spent the entire show in tense uneasy anticipation, barely wanting to look at the stage.  Particularly as the lead was a big fat guy who spent most of the show in his Y-fronts. 

There was no full frontal nudity. 

Turns out the sign referred to a bit when a woman exposed her breasts, but she actually did this to the cast, with her back to the audience.  This seems like a necessary change as the character was supposed to have a huge tattoo of Barry Manilow or someone on her breast, so obviously this wouldn’t be able to be realised.  Yet since the sign was still up, it seems like it must have been a last minute change.  Were the shop out of Barry Manilow temporary tattoos that day?

  • Bent (Tabard Theatre, London/7th August 2010)


The interesting thing about this show is that it didn’t have a sign warning of full frontal nudity. 
The worst part was that the naked guy went off stage-phew-and then CAME BACK AND HE WAS STILL NAKED
(if slightly less, uh, alert).

  • Aliens Love Underpants (Kings Theatre, Portsmouth/4th October 2013)


The main thing I remember about this one is EVERYONE KEPT THEIR CLOTHES ON.




Um, right, Musical Monday…



Let Me Entertain You from Gypsy

Well it’s the only musical number about taking your clothes off that came to mind.


Sunday, 14 September 2014

Birthmonth Day Fourteen: Dolly West’s Kitchen


DAY FOURTEEN.  AGE FOURTEEN.
Uh-oh, puberty.

Since I know a generally arty crowd, actors and writers mostly, with the occasional musician and artist thrown in for good measure,

I have been to see a few shows that came about while The Friends were studying their arts.

  • Dolly West’s Kitchen (Mountview Theatre School/Pleasance Theatre, Islington/23rd May 2006) – of which The Main Memory is that sand dunes were created by putting sheets over stuff, which worked surprisingly well, and also that The Friend kissed his housemate (which is one of those reasons I wouldn’t have made a good actor – you want me to kiss people I don’t fancy?  Gross).


  • MA Acting Showcase 2009 (LIPA/Criterion Theatre, Piccadilly/7th May 2009) – of which The Main Memory is that one of the interpretations of Beauty and the Beast involved a guy’s girlfriend cheating on him with a woman, but then he forgave them both for the sake of friendship, and that we (me and the two friends I went with) had great fun rudely labelling each actor with one trait as if we were total jerk casting directors.


  • The Perfect Present (Rising Lights Theatre Company/Third Floor Arts Centre, Portsmouth Central Library/19th May 2010) – of which The Main Memory, apart from never knowing there was a theatre in the library, is that the perfect present is apparently a ring and that there needs to be a sequel to find out what happened to the two elves who escaped Santa’s workshop.








Saturday, 13 September 2014

Birthmonth Day Thirteen: The Now Show


DAY THIRTEEN.  AGE THIRTEEN.
It was a bit big.  Also, I got Jumanji for my thirteenth birthday!


The Now Show (BBC Radio 4/The Kings Theatre/11th August 2005)

I used to listen to Radio 4 comedy and so I listened to the Now Show, which was about as near to watching the news as I ever got.  So imagine The Excitement when they announced that they would be leaving London during the summer and coming to… MY LOCAL THEATRE!  (a place I had never actually been before)

I really thought I had misheard or gone insane, at first.  Next thing, I was writing to the BBC for The Free Tickets.  They kindly wrote back and told me that while you had to write to them for tickets to the normal shows, you had to contact the theatres when they were on tour.  Which was a problem, because at that point in time you had to phone the theatre to book tickets and I had (and have, though not as bad) a phone phobia. 
But I had friends staying that summer and made one of them order The Tickets.

Then all I had to do was ask The Slayer if he wanted to go see a radio show being recorded LIVE, and he said yes and wouldn’t believe that the tickets could possibly be free and we went.

I don’t remember much about it now—other than as part of his warm up Hugh Dennis did his dinosaur impression, which I have since seen him do multiple times (it even ended up in Outnumbered), and Mitch Benn sang a sing-a-long version of Alien—but it was awesome watching something, and so being part of something, that was being recorded so I later got to listen to it on the radio and know that I was there.

(I did see them record the show again in summer 2008, but it didn’t quite live up to the first time.)



Friday, 12 September 2014

Birthmonth Day Twelve: The Producers

Well we all knew I'd have to get to this one eventually.

DAY TWELVE.  AGE TWELVE.

If you have read The Author page or happened to know me in 2005, or noticed the hat,
then you’ll know that I have a special relationship with The Producers. 

Sometime towards the end of 2004, while I was at university, I saw a picture in the paper of Nathan Lane in a hat.  I like Nathan Lane a lot.  So I read the article, which I think was a sort of ‘what’s hot/must see’ kind of list and apparently this new stage show The Producers was the top of the current ‘you’d be a fool to miss it’ list.

I vaguely recalled several years previously when the show opened in America that an old friend and I bemoaned the lack of ability to travel to Broadway whenever we felt like it, because a show starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick sounded perfect.  But since it was impossible, I quickly put it out of The Mind for three or so years.

But now it had opened in the West End.  I could go see Nathan Lane!  (Didn’t care a jot about Lee Evans though).

So I suggested it to the university buddy and he was game so we booked our incredibly expensive tickets for the new year, just before we’d return to uni after Christmas.

Only then Nathan Lane, who wasn’t supposed to have been in the West End show at all and was called in last minute when Richard Dreyfuss didn’t work out and no one else would be good enough at this late stage other than the guy who originated the role on stage and so was not in peak physical condition because he’d come straight out of another show to do it, hurt his back and couldn’t be in the show any more.

And I went through a lot of emotions.  There was no point seeing the show any more because the only reason I wanted to see it was to see Nathan Lane, one of The Favouritist Of Actors, and he wasn’t bloody well in it any more.

But I still had the tickets.  And the uni buddy wanted to see it regardless of cast.  So we went (taking in the Theatre Museum first for something to do).

The Producers (Theatre Royal Drury Lane /5th January 2005)

And about one second after the understudy Cory English had lowered the newspaper at the end of Opening Night—The reviews come out a lot faster when the critics leave at intermission—I was sold.  By the time he was singing We Can Do It, a scene later, I had never loved an actor as much as I loved him.

I nearly died laughing at that show.  I can remember leaning over, unable to breathe because I couldn’t stop laughing, and wondering what the hell I was supposed to do.

Y’know that rule I had about not giving standing ovations unless they were deserved?  Well, The Producers deserved a standing ovation, but the people in front of me didn’t stand up, so neither did I.  And I realised I could now NEVER EVER give a standing ovation because I hadn’t for the greatest thing I had ever seen.  I had cursed The Self.

I went out as soon as I got home and bought the soundtrack, which is the best CD I own, still.

The Producers became The New Favourite Show, and unlike Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Singin’ In The Rain before it, I doubt it’s going to be replaced.  It’s one of those things that’s greater than the sum of its parts, or at least the performances and sets and music do miracles with the book, and it clearly hit me at just the right moment in The Life.  It was the funniest, happiest, most magical experience and I will always cherish that memory.  Sure, afterwards, I became mind-dribblingly obsessed and never talked about anything else for months, but I also gained a confidence to be me that hadn’t been there before.  It changed The Life.  And for a year after I saw it, I was happy all the time.

When the film version of the show came out in December 2005, I went to see it SIX times at the cinema. 

Y’know that other rule I had about never seeing the same show twice?  Well, I broke that one for The Producers.  But only just.  I would see the show again.  But only if it was the right Max Bialystock.

When Cory English became the lead in 2006, I went to see the show again (this time with The Housemate, who technically wasn’t the housemate yet). 

The Producers (Theatre Royal Drury Lane/22nd May 2006)

We got lost in London.
If only there were landmarks you could use to get your bearings.






This time I took in a tour of the theatre first, which was awesome.
Disposable cameras are less awesome.




Allegedly the Queen's chair.

Mr English's dressing room!

I think this one is under the stage.

In the wings.

The doors to the stage, big enough for elephants.



Saw the show again, which was unfortunately not the greatest performance (a few dropped lines on top of having to live up to The INSANE LOVE Expectations) and afterwards I went to the stage door for the first (and probably only) time in The Life and got Cory English’s autograph, and a photo (which sits on The Desk – a constant reminder of how INSANELY GLEEFUL I was and the mad giggling I made as I walked away, which I’m fully aware he could hear). 

And when the run finished, I went to see the final performance

The Producers (Theatre Royal Drury Lane /6th January 2007)

and it was just as amazingly awesome as ever. 
The Impression Of Max Bialystock
And I managed to break the curse.  I gave The Producers a standing ovation.  The First and the most deserved.  So now I can give them out whenever I feel like it, but they’ll never deserve it as much as that first one.

I’ll always be glad that I saw Cory English as Max three times in three years.






Thursday, 11 September 2014

Birthmonth Day Eleven: A Midsummer Night’s Dream


DAY ELEVEN.  AGE ELEVEN.


Today is The Official Birthday of The Birthmonth, so hooray for me.

The last show that The School/College took me to see was by far the best.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Watermill, West Berkshire Playhouse/Feb-March 2003).

I am not a fan of Shakespeare generally and having studied far too much of it at school, I was not likely to be impressed.  But this show was the funniest thing I had ever seen.  It was an all male cast and they nailed it.  They made lines I had heard a hundred times before finally come alive and they were so over the top, the audience were soon in hysterics which quickly heightened the actors’ performances and absolutely everyone in that theatre (which appeared to be a barn) had a whale of a time. 

I’m a big fan of OTT performances channelling humour – it’s what makes Frasier and Back To The Future so perfect and so choke-with-laughter funny over and over again, and if you have to go on stage, this already makes everything a bit silly because we all know it isn’t real and you’re pretending you can’t see us, so to actually channel into that silliness instead of ignoring it is just bliss.

I also thought Theseus was pretty hot.





Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Birthmonth Day Ten: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang


DAY TEN. AGE TEN.
Seen here as a Victorian Lady’s Maid
By ten The Real Personality was developing.  I spent a few years just right, and then hit puberty and lost it all.  I kinda emerged again on the other side, but now with a whole bunch of neuroses.  So those years from ten-twelve?  Halcyon, man.

I wanted to be a detective when I grew up (which I’ve only recently realised was because of Who Framed Roger Rabbit), but much like the inventor thing that was more of a game.  It’s not like I ever sat down and thought about what detectives actually do, or how I would go about becoming one.  It just sounded cool and I wished by some magic that I was one (and was really good at it), so long as it took no effort on my part.

There were several toy detective kits lying around which I requisitioned along with an old trilby, and I drew up business cards and made The Cat The Partner and I was off.

Although actually The ID said I was Chief Inspector and worked at the Police Station, I clearly drew an eye at the top of it, which means I was thinking of a PI.  I don’t think I really knew the difference between Private or Police.  I just liked the trilby part.

...

So Les Misérables wasn’t the last show The Father took me to see.  There followed a string of others where my reaction was probably as ungrateful and critical as ever.

There was

Lord Of The Dance (1999, I think) – it was not impressively staged, and I guess I just like my stories to contain, y’know, dialogue, plus the good guys and the bad guys were played by the same people, which doesn’t add for much tension.

The King And I (London Palladium/2000) – the sets looked really expensive and over done in reds and golds and I figured if I was noticing that, then I wasn’t exactly enthralled by the show.

Whistle Down The Wind (The Mayflower/April 2002) – ummm, it was quite evocative, I guess.  But it didn’t exactly stay with me.  It is at least more dramatic than the film, which isn’t hard.

So with a string of not-exactly-hits behind us, when The Father said he was going to see the new Chitty Chitty Bang Bang stage show less than a month after it opened, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that he wasn’t taking me.  But I was.
I was shocked.  He was always taking me to the theatre and now he was telling me about a trip to the theatre he was taking and I wasn’t invited.  Or at least, not directly.  When he mentioned there was a spare ticket the words weren’t fully out of his mouth before I jumped all over them.  I wanted to see this show.  I knew the film and I knew a friend who desperately wanted to see the show, so all in all, I had to go and see it first.

And I do feel sorry for Singin’ In The Rain, because it didn’t get to be The Favourite Show for very long at all.
(it’s crying, not raining)

Because Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (London Palladium/4th May 2002) was amazing.

It wasn’t perfect.  Unlike the hooting audience, I wasn’t particularly impressed when Michael Ball jumped out from behind the machine at the start.  There were moments that I didn’t think as good as the film (Toot Sweets wasn’t nearly so energetic and they dumped the gag for Chu-Chi Face so I don’t know why it still exists).  While the new songs of Bombi Samba and Kiddy-Widdy-Winkies failed to hold The Attention.

But otherwise I was quickly swept up in excitement.  It was incredibly funny.  Most of the staging was inspired.  When the car took off I was completely taken in and was sure I was once again experiencing MAGIC right there in front of me
(until I realised I could see the hydraulic arm as it passed in front of the star lights on the backdrop). 

I still have some of the glitter (somewhere) that fell from the ceiling at the end.

It was the most amazing show I had ever seen.  So I only feel slightly guilty that I made The Father buy me both a souvenir brochure and the programme.  After all these tries he finally took me to see something I really really loved.  I’m also pretty sure this was the last time The Father took me to the theatre.  So way to go out on a high, Dad.





Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Birthmonth Day Nine: Chicago


DAY NINE.  AGE NINE.
Seen here, as a Christmas cracker.

Kind of like the geologist thing, I probably wanted to be a palaeontologist when I grew up (although I don’t think I went as far as knowing the word for it).


Did you know it turns out they don’t even teach you about dinosaurs in history class?  For some reason it comes under science and I already said I found science boring.  Of course all this was back when I thought dinosaurs were cool and played with the ice cream tub of luminous and multi-coloured misshapen rubber dinosaur toys we had, before Jurassic Park came along and decided to make dinosaurs the scariest thing in the world.



Being part of that drama crowd I keep mentioning, it happened eventually during college that we banded together and went to see some shows off our own steam.  I had been taken to see shows by parents, school and Brownies, and I had gone to see shows that people I knew were in, but this was the first time I had gone with friends to see a professional show and it felt really cool. 
Yes, that’s what I considered cool.  Going to the theatre with the drama crowd.

The idea was to turn up just before the show started and buy the cheap leftover seats.

The first time, we saw Chicago (The Mayflower/1st March 2002) and it was brilliant.  For a long time after this I counted Chicago as one of The Top-Five-Favourite Shows.  However, having now worked in a theatre, I’ve seen it a few times since and it’s actually really annoying. 

Of course back then I had a special rule which was
This was because a live experience is unique and I was afraid that if I saw another version that The Memory would be replaced with the latter one and the original would be lost forever.  And I was kind of right.  Because I don’t remember what was so great about that first time I saw Chicago any more.

The other show we went to see was Grease (The Mayflower/16th May 2002) because we were doing Grease ourselves as the whole school production (another stinking musical).  This show was… unremarkable.  It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t remotely interesting.  And back then I had another rule.  Back when The Father took me to see Les Misérables and everyone stood up to applaud at the end and I didn’t because I was feeling really sad and resentful and The Father got annoyed with me, I decided then

At least, not just because other people were.  I wasn’t going to stand up just because the inconsiderate people in front of me were now blocking The View.  I would only give a standing ovation if I saw something so mind-altering brilliant that I couldn’t help but jump to The Feet cheering.  So I was not giving Grease a standing ovation.  So I couldn’t see the damn finale through the backs of the people in front of me.

What I remember better than either of these shows is that one of these times we stopped in the Toys-R-Us outside the theatre first and I had a go on one of those £1 machines that releases a random little capsule when you turn the wheel.  It was a Thunderbirds machine and I had a 5-1 chance of getting the only Thunderbird I had any interest in (Thunderbird 5, obviously) and I TOTALLY BEAT THE SYSTEM AND GOT THE ONE I WANTED FIRST TIME.  I still have it (somewhere), although the pointy bit at the bottom has fallen off, which actually allows it to sit better on a shelf.





Monday, 8 September 2014

Birthmonth Day Eight: Singin’ In The Rain (and Musical Monday #77)


DAY EIGHT.  AGE EIGHT.

I don’t know if I ever actually wanted to be geologist, because I don’t actually know what a geologist does.

What I do know is that I ‘collected’ shiny stones, both from the beach and from the gift shops of museums.  I liked shiny stones (and still do).  So I figure some part of The Brain must have considered a job surrounded by shiny stones as being ideal.

This does not mean I wanted a job making costume dolls though, or stickers.  Not all collection hobbies lead to career choices.


So sometimes I went to the theatre with The Mother.  Not that often though.  We’d get the theatre brochures and point out shows we wanted to see, but never seemed to get around to actually going.

But we did go sometimes.  She was (and probably still is, I guess) rather partial to Sunset Boulevard so when this came round, we went to see it.

Sunset Boulevard (The Mayflower/24th November 2001).  I viewed this as an opportunity to bond with The Mother so I really wanted to like it (unlike the disaster of when The Father took me to see Les Misérables). 

And it was…

okay.

Generally I am not a fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber, although this is more because of an assumed theatre snobbery that I can’t remember where I picked up than an actual opinion based on experience.  But Sunset Boulevard is probably one of his better shows (the other one being By Jeeves) because it sticks closely to the source material for once (the film being by Billy Wilder, one of the greatest writer/directors ever).  And the title song, if nothing else, is pretty darn good.  How many songs are genuinely exciting?

But honestly the only bit I remember particularly liking of the show is the scene where Norma buys Joe lots of clothes.

So since it is Musical Monday, here’s Sunset Boulevard.  You can pick which version you want to watch, depending on which actor you like best (just a hint though, I’ve put the performances in what I think is best-to-worst order).

Michael Ball:


Hugh Jackman:


John Barrowman:


Sunset Boulevard from Sunset Boulevard (duh)

But that’s not what I’ve brought you here to talk about.  It was another show I saw with The Mother that really hit me.

Around a similar time, we also went to see Singin’ In The Rain, I think also at The Mayflower.

Up until this point, although I had seen quite a lot of theatre, and I enjoyed the opportunity to do so, I had no idea what it was like to fall for a show the way I had fallen for films and books before.  I could never have said what was The Favourite Show.  Until that day.

I love the movie Singin’ In The Rain.  As a kid one of The Greatest Desires to achieve when I became an actor was to be able to run up a wall like Cosmo.

So going to see a live version of the film was a big deal for me.  And the show wasn’t able to achieve the same awe I felt for the film. (the only differences I recall was the speech therapist in Moses Supposes was a woman, which didn’t work as well, Lana gets a song, which was a good change, and Cosmo’s dance for Make ‘Em Laugh was slightly less energetic, but as The Mother pointed it out, he was having to do it all in one take and live)

But it was still the best theatre show I had ever seen.

IT RAINS.  Right there, live on stage.  It FREAKING RAINS!  How many other stage shows come with a splash zone?

It was that magic of theatre I keep talking about.




Sunday, 7 September 2014

Birthmonth Day Seven: Oliver!


DAY SEVEN.  AGE SEVEN.

I liked acting long before I knew it was acting.  In The First Year of Infant School The Favourite Make-Believe Game (although we always called them ‘imaginary games’, which I suppose is ambiguous)
was The Invisible Man.  I don’t remember much, but it was your basic Scooby-Doo style story, except whatever the more scary, serious version of that is.

From here, I perfected The Usual Role in the make-believe games that continued throughout Infant and Junior School.  Generally half of a double act, I’d be both wily and clumsy, the kind of cocksure person who might pull a mysterious lever and send a friend hurtling down a trapdoor without noticing, but at the same time I was partial to a pratfall myself. 

Slowly the make-believe became play-acting, and by Junior School any opportunity to tell a story was exploited into making the other kids watch us perform a play.  I knew my strengths when it came to improvisation and that wily but clumsy character had advanced to the kind of character who would interrupt other people’s monologues to complain for more attention, who infuriated figures of authority with zaniness, was cowardly in the face of danger, heroic in the face of audience attention, cocky, brash and idiotic when it was funny, sardonically facepalming when others were, constantly scheming, likely to cause harm to associates and even more likely to get blown up for a gag ending.

I had in other words written The Self to be Daffy Duck,
if you could add the occasional moral crusade in there.

So when I went up to Senior School and got a whole lesson devoted to drama, it was wonderful.  And not enough.

There was a drama club, but it was after school and I couldn’t go.  But I loved drama more than anything in the world.  So one of the drama teachers, not unreasonably assuming there might be other keen drama enthusiasts who weren’t able to stick around after lessons, opened the drama classroom at lunchtime and so began Lunchtime Drama Club.

But later in the year, I was able to join Afterschool Drama Club anyway.  I don’t regret that The Initial Not-Joining-Of-It led to the creation of an entirely separate club which then seemed like a slightly redundant move, because Lunchtime Drama Club was way better than Afterschool Drama Club.  I’m egocentric, like most normal people, and Afterschool Drama Club was a lot less fun than Lunchtime Drama Club.  Because Lunchtime Drama Club was invented because of me.  The only thing Afterschool Drama Club had going for it was that it reached a better audience in the end.  

Lunchtime Drama Club was The Favourite Thing In The World.  It was the reason I went to school.  I got through the morning by counting down till lunchtime.  Summer was the worst time at school because while the cold weather drove people into the drama classroom, the hot weather kept them away.

Lunchtime Drama Club was about opening our imaginations, it was about being important, it was fun, exciting, empowering and totally freeing.  We’d come up with small (mostly) improvised plays that we’d perform at open evenings, assemblies, ‘talent’ shows, at lunchtime performances for our friends, on special nights when we could invite our parents or occasionally not at all (especially if all the traitors had gone to sit on the field because it was sunny).  And sometimes we weren’t devising plays at all and were just playing Jurassic Park (I made a good velociraptor).

Afterschool Drama Club was very different.  It was supervised for a start, it wasn’t about improvising, it wasn’t about hanging out with your friends and it wasn’t about small ideas that I got to be in charge of.  Afterschool Drama Club was for the one big school production every year.  It involved the whole school, there were dozens of children from every year involved, there were auditions and scripts and selected rehearsals and eventually three performances open to the public (and one dress rehearsal open to other schools).

At Afterschool Drama Club I wasn’t in control of what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be.  There was now a hierarchy and I was one of the youngest and the newest person there (instead of the first and oldest like at Lunchtime Drama Club) and I had to stand in line.  For years.

In Year 7 (the first year of Senior School), the Afterschool Drama Club production was Frankenstein.  By the time I joined, I was just slipped into the chorus.  I was far too late to even have a chance of auditioning.  The only moment I got to have a voice was during a chorus sequence where I got to be a little girl whose argument with her sister about a shawl or a scarf or something sent her sister outside, into the murderous hands of the Bride, I think maybe.
23rd billed

In Year 8, the Afterschool Drama Club production was The Wind In The Willows.  They tried me for the role of the washer woman, but The Inability To Do Accents led me instead to being cast as Fiona (a role I had to share with someone else), a two scene character whose boyfriend is cackhandedly trying to propose and then Mr Toad steals their car.  Otherwise, I was just part of the good animal chorus.
12th billed
In Year 9, the Afterschool Drama Club production was Our Day Out with the songs cut.  Due to being the only person who read the script for one particular scene and so being the only one to perform it correctly during the audition, I was cast as Susan, a teacher, who while on stage for the entire play, has very few actual lines apart from in that one scene I did in The Audition.
5th billed
(only so high because all the adult characters were listed before the kid characters)

In Year 10, the Afterschool Drama Club production was Sherlock Holmes And The Limehouse Horror, except it went horribly wrong and we a) didn’t perform it until the following year and b) as such performed it in the drama studio instead of the school hall, making it very much like an unimportant Lunchtime Drama Club performance instead of the big whole school production.  I was cast as Moran, a one-scene wonder who gets caught in the very first scene.  I did manage to insert The Self into a large prologue section we added later and a later ‘in prison’ scene, but by this point it had also become a vampire story and made no sense whatsoever.
3rd billed

So in Year 11 (the final year of Senior School), when the Afterschool Drama Club production was Oliver! I had had it.  First off I was annoyed that everyone was moving on to the new production of Oliver! while our lame last-year production of Sherlock Holmes STILL hadn’t been performed.  And second off, Oliver! is a musical.  Frankenstein wasn’t a musical, The Wind In The Willows kind of was, although I'm sure a lot of songs were cut, Our Day Out specifically had the songs removed, Sherlock Holmes sure as hell wasn’t a musical.  So why in The Final Year Of School were we suddenly doing a massive proper famous musical?  I can’t sing.  Or dance.  Exactly what kind of rubbish role was I gonna get stuck with?

Frankenstein – I was in the chorus.  The Wind In The Willows – chorus, but with one scene role.  Our Day Out – supporting character.  Sherlock Holmes – back to one scene role but I made it bigger, bigger than just a supporting character.  There was progression here.  Everyone knew that was how it was supposed to work.  You start in Year 7 with the chorus and you work your way up until by Year 11 you get a lead role.  But I knew there was no chance whatsoever that I would get a lead role in Oliver! because it’s a dumb musical even though we’d never done one before.  And I was not suffering the indignity of being a Year 11 student stuck back in the chorus.  I had toiled for five years and I wasn’t going back there.

So I wasn’t in the show.  No biggie.  I still had Lunchtime Drama Club.

But all The Friends were in Oliver! and they made new friends there and all the old drama crowd I had come to know over the years were in it.  And from what I could tell, they were having the best time in their lives ever.

So obviously I had to hate and scorn the stupid show.

But when it came to the performances, The Flimsy Sulk didn’t really seem important and I wanted to see The Best Friends as Nancy, Mr Bumble, Fagin and Mr Sowerberry. 

So I went and saw Oliver! (Horndean Community School/Barton Hall, Horndean Campus/23rd March 2001). 

It was weird seeing a school show from the other side.  I’d never done that.

The kid playing Oliver sounded like nails on a blackboard and had the strong hint of being a bully not an adorable moppet, and I couldn’t find the hook that made this an interesting show, but the set was good, with some kind of bridge thing, and The Friends were all really good—Nancy, Mr Bumble, Fagin and Mr Sowerberry—they did themselves proud for their final Year 11 Afterschool Drama Club production and I’m glad I got to see them do it.







I am so proud of that Daffy Duck drawing.